Obama Bares His Fangs

By Larry Jones

This week, Barack Obama announced at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point tonight that he is escalating the war in Afghanistan by ordering 30,000 more troops to that beleaguered country. He says this is a plan for getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan. 
 
Brilliant! He plans to get out of Afghanistan by going deeper in. This is the same thing that was going on when some of us old timers hit the streets against the war in Vietnam - except this war has been going on for eight years and this troop increase trumpets the fact that it will go on for many more. So profound is the Vietnam parallel that Obama spent a good deal of time trying to show that there’s no parallel.
 
But I have to say that I am overwhelmed and sickened with the saddening sense that what I was hearing was an eloquent but sinister leader proclaiming paeans of praise for a nation he claims is “perfected above all other nations” and calling upon all to recognize and celebrate its glory. His face was stern throughout, appearing to welcome no dissent. “My God,” this atheist said out loud. “What am I seeing?”
 
It was as if we are entering a new and dangerous era in our history, one in which in all commoners watch on an electronic screen as the leader pronounces who are the righteous and who the demonic. The speech was clearly designed to give justification for escalating a war unpopular both here and in Afghanistan as well as in huge sections of the globe.
 
Speaking against a backdrop of military cadets dramatically sent the message that the Commander in Chief intends to rely primarily on military force in his new strategy for Afghanistan, even as he claimed otherwise. The Washington Post brought it home by stating “The new deployments, along with 22,000 troops he authorized early this year, would bring the total U.S. force in Afghanistan to more than 100,000, more than half of which will have been sent to the war zone by Obama.” He can no longer say that this is a war he inherited. This murderous and unpopular war is now his all his.
 
It had been the administration’s hope that the recent Afghan elections would at least appear fair and that someone less corrupt than President Hamid Karzai but who would also be friendly to the U.S. would win out. Such was not the case and Obama still had Karzai to deal with. Left with this horrible PR problem, Obama has insisted that Karzai clear out the rampant corruption in his regime, which the perpetual prevaricator has promised to do. To fulfill such a promise, of course, would require for starters that he force his brother, Ahmed Wal Karzai the notorious drug dealer, out of his position as Chief of the Kandahar Provincial Council. Don’t look for that happening anytime soon.
 
"I think the corruption and the failures in the system and the government cannot only be fixed through removal," Karzai said Tuesday. "There are rules and there are regulations and there are laws that need to be reformed." He spoke of working at doing this over the next five years.   As he said this, his vice president stood next to him. Marshal Mohammad Fahim has been accused of war crimes and is believed to have ties to the drug trade.
 
President Obama again claimed that the U.S. assault on and occupation of Afganistan is a war of necessity,” that must be escalated lest the homeland be attacked once again by Al Qaeda. But Obama’s own national security advisor, Gen. James Jones, has stated that, “The Al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.”
 
So, taking these people at their own word, the U.S. and its partners in imperialist crime (a.k.a. “allies”) will be utilizing 100,000 plus troops to subdue in one way or another an apparent force of 100 armed combatants.
 
Obama also says he is concerned about the possible return to power of the Taliban, who in the ‘80s were the mujahedeen fighting against Russian occupation of Afghanistan and who received U.S. arms to wage that fight. The Taliban do have influence over great areas of Afghanistan, providing food and shelter in some instances, and pure military dominance in others. But the truth is, and Obama knows his history, that no empire ever won a war in Afghanistan. And make no mistake; this is an imperial war by an empire seeking to expand its hegemony. The plan is that even if U.S. troops leave, Afghanistan will have a government amenable to the wishes of the world’s only superpower. 
 
Nor is this a war of liberation. If hostilities are ever to stop, concessions with the Taliban will have to be made, and they will insist on sharia law with its extreme restrictions on human freedom, including requiring women to wear the burqa. As my old friend from Hawaii, Gary Leupp (now professor of history at Tufts University) has written, “… the burqa is actually back with a vengeance and the warlords upon whom the U.S. must rely to maintain order have always laughed at U.S. proposals for social reform. They know that’s not what the troops are there for.” They know, and the American people should wake up to the fact that U.S. and allied forces are there for domination.
 
That is why Obama is sending nearly 50% more troops than the 71,000 already there. Allied nations have sent some 42,000 troops to Afghanistan and Obama is asking that they and NATO send an additional 5,000. One group of American troops, Obama told us tonight will begin moving out in early 2010, probably to Helmand Province
 
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Parliament even before the speech that the military objective is "to create the space for an effective political strategy to work, weakening the Taliban by strengthening Afghanistan itself." Over the next year, he said, the Afghan army will be expanded from 90,000 to 134,000 troops, with 10,000 of them going to Helmand province, where U.S. Marines and British forces have focused their fight against the Taliban. Further increases are envisioned for later
 
Obama’s military strategy includes transfering lead “security” (read – repression of the people, defense of the oppressive status quo) responsibility to Afghans district by district, province by province.    But ending a thoroughgoing occupation is not that easy, especially when the locals in the Afghan Army and police often have strong ties to the Taliban and whose loyalty to the government is tenuous at best. The U.S. and its allies may be there for a long time, even though the President made it sound like it would all be wrapped up in a couple of years.
 
In the face of the duplicity of Obama’s speech and in the face of the horrors being faced by the people of Afghanistan and their close neighbors in Pakistan, it is clear that our response must be in the streets, fighting to build a determined, independent movement of political resistance. See the calls to action on the front page of this site.
 
 

 

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.